Manchester United’s tilt at Europa League silverware resumes this week against LASK.
The last 16 second-leg is effectively a warm-up game for the last eight, where United will face Istanbul Basaksehir or FC Copenhagen in a one-off tie.
Then just the semi-final stands between United and the Europa League final, in which the team will hope to emulate the success against Ajax in 2017.
One player certain to miss out is Luke Shaw, who has an unlucky record when it comes to finals.
Shaw sustained an ankle injury in mid-July against Southampton, which also kept him out of the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club website at the end of last month that Shaw is now working on trying to get fit for next season, and won’t be involved in the Europa League.
For the team this is a blow, but for Shaw individually, it is particularly bad luck.
Injury cost him the chance to feature in the FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace in 2016. Shaw did not make the bench, with Marcos Rojo starting.
When United beat Southampton in the EFL Cup final in 2017, Shaw again was not even on the bench, again with Rojo starting the game.
Injury ruled Shaw out of the Europa League final in 2017 too, with Matteo Darmian starting as United beat Ajax 2-0.
These were three trophies which Shaw will have barely felt like he was a part of.
When United took on Chelsea in the FA Cup final defeat in 2018, Shaw again was not even in the squad due to injury, with Ashley Young starting.
United have plenty do to to get to the Europa League final, but if the team do, there could be more heartbreak and bittersweet feeling for Shaw.
He told The Mirror earlier this year about his memory of missing out in 2017: “I was there for the Europa League Final and the feeling, even though I wasn’t on the pitch, was a feeling I’ve not felt before and I want more of it.
“I wasn’t involved and that’s what is pushing me on even more to get into this final, and others.”
It may lead to a question as to whether he may push hard for a return in case United make the final on August 21.
Shaw may already have resigned himself to missing out, but if there is a glimmer of hope he might make it, he will be desperate to be involved in a final this time if the opportunity presents itself.
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